BRIDGE CITY, Texas — A Bridge City man said a Tuesday night fire that devastated his house and killed two of his dogs has reinforced to him how precious life is.
John Nickum did not know his house was on fire until a man driving by warned him about the blaze. Nickum tried to put the fire out himself, but his older home was quickly engulfed in flames, he said.
It took firefighters about 30 minutes to get the blaze under control.
“We tried to put it out, but being that it was an older home, it started going and, it started going fast,” Nickum said.
Acting on instinct, the Bridge City man went into the burning house in an attempt to rescue his dogs. Nickum was able to get most of his dogs out, but two of them sadly died in the fire.
“Please don't go inside of a burning house. It is more than you could ever imagine,” Nickum said.
While losing the dogs was tough, Nickum said he is lucky neither his wife nor kids were home at the time of the fire.
“I thought how amazing it actually was that I can sit here and maybe worry about whether or not I’m going to be home for Thanksgiving,” Nickum said.
The Bridge City man was taken by life flight to UTMB in Galveston and released the following night. Nickum said despite the fact that he is recovering from burns on his head, ears, hands and arms, he and his family are grateful to be alive.
“Just teaches you not to live in the moment to be honest with you,” Nickum said. “Life is fragile. It’s a gift. We’re not entitled to it, so every day is a blessing."
Nickum was able to spend Thanksgiving with his wife and kids. He will go back to UTMB Tuesday to receive treatment for his burns.
Nickum said they will not be able to rebuild his home, so for the time being, he and his wife plan on moving into the Calvary Mission House in Beaumont. The Bridge City man is trying to view the setback as an opportunity to start fresh.
“You learn to be grateful for the opportunities in life,” Nickum said. “It's a lot easier to make it through life looking at it that way.”
Nickum said he appreciates the outpouring of love and support from the Bridge City and Vidor communities.
Vidor Mayor Misty Songe told 12NewsNow that the Vidor Chamber of Commerce and city hall are accepting donations for Nickum.
The city hall and chamber will begin accepting cash donations starting Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For those who would like to donate via PayPal, you can email Mayor Songe at firstname.lastname@example.org.